In just over two weeks another trip to Scotland gets under way… distillery tours will again be the primary focus, but this time I am unfortunately not making it all the way to Islay. During the trip two years ago I ran into some (fellow) German whisky tourists who raved about their visit to the Springbank distillery in Campbeltown; they were touring Islay (and the adjoining mainland) by van, so they were able cover a slightly wider geographic range – and also got around a little more quickly than yours truly on a bike. (They had time to take the ferry from Port Askaig across to Jura and visited the lone distillery on that island… Germans tend to be quite organized and efficient.) Even my dad is aware of the Springbank distillery: some time ago he sent me a link to an online article discussing their unique two-and-a-half-times (?!?) distillation process. Well, curious as I am, I have wanted to visit Springbank for some time and will finally do so in mid-June. A second distillery in Campbeltown – Mitchell’s Glengyle – has also recently begun producing whiskies, making the long trip (four hours by bus from Glasgow, after a four-hour train ride from London) “worth the journey.” Passing by the ferry terminal at Kennacraig will bring back fond memories… as long as I am not asleep when that stop is made.
Returning to Glasgow the next day, I will have an opportunity to visit the other distillery that is within easy reach of the city for those who do not travel by car: Glengoyne. The trip to nearby Auchentoshan (the very first distillery I visited) was accomplished by train and a hope-I-don’t-turn-the-wrong-way twenty-minute walk; Glengoyne should be much easier to find, as passengers are dropped off at the distillery entrance after a brief forty-minute bus ride! I seem to remember reading a brochure about Glengoyne the last time I was in Glasgow, claiming that it is the most scenically situated distillery in all of Scotland – hopefully the unpredictable Scottish summer weather will cooperate so that I can compare its location with that of the Islay distilleries (Kilchoman’s distinction as the only inland distillery made the vista quite memorable, if the approach was a little torturous).
I am not expecting this set of distillery visits to feature a slate of heavy peat-laden whiskies to sample; Springbank promises some Islay-style expressions, and being in a coastal community not too far from Islay perhaps the air and the malting process help to produce a similar whisky. Glengyle and Glengoyne are great mysteries, although my reference book speaks highly of the Glengoyne line (Glengyle is too young to have made it into my edition of this tome). And while I doubt that – save for the Springbank process – I will see anything which I have not seen before, the wonderful aromas that course throughout a distillery will be a pleasure to experience again.